Finance Ministers meet in Fiji

The Forum Economic Ministers Meeting has concluded in Fiji. This is one of the standing ministerial meetings of the Pacific Islands Forum. It plays an important role in determining what will be on the agenda of the Forum Leaders when they meet in Cook Islands later this year.

One of the key outcomes of the meeting was the endorsement of a redesigned Pacific Resilience Facility (PRF). This is intended to provide access to finance for Pacific communities that are unable to tap into mechanisms such as the Green Climate Fund. The PRF will now go before the Forum Leaders for them to approve.

Fiji’s Finance Minister Biman Prasad gave a public seminar on the sidelines of the meeting. He described the region as being on a “cliff edge”. His proposed remedy hinges on full regional integration starting with visa free travel between all Forum member countries.

Disconnected conversations at PNG Investment Conference

The 2023 Business Advantage PNG Investment Conference was held recently in Brisbane. Whilst much of what was discussed is ‘business as usual’ there are increasing levels of disconnect in these discussions.

Predicted levels of economic growth are steadfastly located within the ‘resources mindset’. There were reassurances that gas is part of the transition to a decarbonised global economy and that PNG should not fear being left with stranded assets. This puts PNG at odds with the rest of the region when it comes to collective action and advocacy in relation to the climate emergency.

However, elsewhere when it comes to the long-called-for diversification of the economy away from the resources sector, there seems little progress. One new initiative emanating from the tourism board is to invest in East New Britain as a primary destination that can cater for niche, high-value markets such as bird watching and soft adventure.

Other Pacific News:

In Australia, the women’s football team advanced to the semi-finals. Star player Mary Boio Fowler has her own very special following in Kira Kira, Papua New Guinea, which is her mother’s birthplace.

International assistance has been rushed to Bougainville to support the response to a recent volcanic eruption. The governments of Australia, New Zealand and the USA have all deployed relief supplies and personnel to assist in the efforts.

In Vanuatu, a motion of no confidence in Prime Minister Ishmael Kalsakau has been deferred until August 16th, when it is scheduled to be debated in Parliament. Both Opposition and Government camps are claiming they have 27 MPs, the number required to form a government.

Political reform is under discussion in Tonga. A petition has been launched to change the law so that the Prime Minister is directly elected by the people rather than by the Members of Parliament as is currently the case.

In Samoa, a long-running case related to an alleged plot to assassinate the former Prime Minister has taken a new turn. Two of the four charged have now been given prison terms further to having been found guilty in March of this year.


Tess Newton Cain is a Senior Research Fellow at the Griffith Asia Institute and project lead for the Griffith Pacific Hub.